Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Lucas, William Vincent

Anglican Communion

William Vincent Lucas was an Anglican missionary and bishop in Tanganyika (Tanzania). After study at Oxford, ordination, and a curacy, he joined the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa in 1909, serving in parishes until 1926, when he became the first bishop of the Diocese of Masasi on the death of Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar. Work among the Masasi had begun when Bishop Edward Steere arrived in 1876 with freed slaves despairing of finding their original homes; the diocese covered southeastern Tanzania and was little developed. Lucas began as bishop with only ten British and nine African clergy, but after 1935 numbers both rose and pressures eased. In his first ten years schools increased from 89 to 237. But World War II brought such destitution that some people reverted to bark clothing, though the country was not a war zone (as it had been in World War I). Lucas had welcomed colonial indirect rule through chiefs in 1930, but later he felt this was artificial and led to abuse. In 1921 the jando (circumcision rites) of the Yao were brought into a Christian framework, Lucas being cautiously in favor. Elsewhere such rites were dying, but Lucas hoped that their real value might endure. He resigned in 1944 and returned to England, where he soon died.

Gavin White


W. V. Lucas, Christianity and Native Rites (1948), “The Christian Approach to Non-Christian Customs,” in E. R. Morgan, ed., Essays Catholic and Missionary (1928) and “The Educational Value of Initiatory Rites,” IRM 16 (April 1927): 192-198. A. G. Blood, The History of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, vols. 2 (1957) and 3 (1962); Lyndon P. Harries, “Bishop Lucas and the Masasi Experiment,” IRM 34 (Oct. 1945): 389-396.

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.